German airlines including Lufthansa agree to require two people in cockpit at all times

BERLIN (Reuters) - Lufthansa said it will introduce new rules requiring two crew members to be in the cockpit at all times after one of the pilots at its Germanwings unit crashed a plane in the French Alps.

Prosecutors believe Andreas Lubitz, 27, locked himself alone in the cockpit of the Airbus A320 on Tuesday and deliberately steered it into a mountain, killing all 150 people on board.

Lufthansa had said on Thursday that it did not see any reason to hastily change its procedures, but many other airlines swiftly changed their own rules. "The passenger airlines of the Lufthansa Group will put this new rule into place as soon as possible in agreement with the relevant authorities," Lufthansa said in a statement on Friday. The Lufthansa Group also includes Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss Air and Eurowings.

The rule has been agreed by all German airlines, aviation association BDL said in a statement. Air Berlin had announced plans on Thursday to introduce the new procedure. Scandinavian airline SAS also said on Friday that it had changed procedures to ensure two people are in the cockpit at all times.

Lufthansa also said it was creating a new role of group safety pilot, who will check and develop flight safety procedures and report directly to Chief Executive Carsten Spohr. Currently, each airline has its own safety pilot.

The group safety pilot role will be held by Werner Maas, currently the safety pilot for the Lufthansa brand.